Anti-fracking campaigners have today called for people to wake up and realise how big each fracking site will be as the battle over the controversial method of extracting gas goes to court.
They say that the current development off Preston New Road near Little Plumpton is big enough for between 40 and 60 wells and not just the four test wells that Cuadrilla aim to drill alter this year.
They say that if the industry wins the judicial review this week and fracking goes ahead then more than 100 well pads of this size will be created in the countryside from Blackpool to Preston and beyond.
Lytham oil and gas engineer Mike Hill said many people did not realise how big fracking pads were.
He said: “I did predict such sized pads but Cuadrilla did their level best to discredit me with the media. One of the slides I showed was a 15 well 2.5Ha pad in British Columbia and even Friends of the Earth and the local MP told me I was scaremongering!
“The Preston New Road site is way bigger than a four well site. A 40 well site maybe. A 60 well site – most likely.
“Of course, initially they will drill and frack 4 wells. They will get recoverability figures and then decide what to do next. Apply for 10 more, 20 more. Sell on to a major.
“It is all preparation so that Cuadrilla are ready to immediacy expand the site.
“This pad will almost certainly become a Superpad (40- 60 boreholes) with the misery that then entails for the local population.
“The British Columbia pad was actually 16 wells in the end but when I used the photo it was 15. It took 274 frack operations across nearly four months 24x7 and night with the diesel compressors going full whack – 16 of them. Imagine the noise and the fumes. The particulate matter blowing down wind. Well now imagine that at Preston New Road and more.”
Bob Dennett, from Frack Free Lancashire, said: “The site being built is huge and people should understand that if this industry is allowed to go ahead then sites like this will appear all across the fields of Lancashire.
“It’s not just the damage to the green land, the number of trucks and tankers going to each site is massive and will clog up the roads and the threat of pollution to the immediate environment is huge too.”
Preston New Road Action Group’s Alan Tootill said: “In theory, a well pad of two hectares or so has the capability of drilling maybe 10 vertical wells and if Cuadrilla are to be believed, three or four horizontal wells could be drilled off each vertical.
“We do not believe Cuadrilla have the competence or experience to do this. This would be world ground-breaking, and Cuadrilla have so far not shown themselves to be capable of successfully drilling one well in Lancashire. Their drilling history is one of technical mistakes and incompetence.”
Barbara Richardson, from the Roseacre Awareness Group, said: “It is a huge blot on the landscape. Imagine this in your neighbouring countryside. People need to wake up and realise what will may ne about to happen.
“The size of this pad is large enough to go into full production. Since we have not had the outcome of the court hearings we think Cuadrilla is being presumptious.”
But Cuadrilla said the size of the pad was only that which had been agreed in the planning application.
A Cuadrilla spokesman said: “It is completely misleading to suggest that Cuadrilla is making any assumptions about future planning applications regarding shale gas production.
“We have full planning consent to drill and hydraulically fracture up to four wells at our exploratory shale gas Preston New Road site, two of which we have said we will drill and fracture this year.”
Lancashire County Council said it had no issues with the size of the pad and access road under the limits of the current planning application.
A spokesman said: “The permission is for four temporary exploration boreholes.
“The access pad and access track area is 2.65ha. A further 7.34 ha is for the pipeline and gas grid connection.”